From Granger, IA to Los Angeles, CA, Sarah Stallman is making her music dreams a reality. Stallman was a Dallas Discoverers 4-H Club member. She was involved in multiple projects including horses, food & nutrition, rabbits, cats, dogs, educational presentations and working exhibits. A favorite memory for Stallman was an annual cheeseball fundraiser her club did that was a huge event for them.
“I remember being in the school gym with all the club members and their parents, getting our hands all messy rolling up these cheese balls with different nuts and flavors and whatnot. We spent a lot of time on them, and just laughed and had fun while we worked hard at making our handmade product for our community.”
4-H provides opportunities youth would not necessarily get to experience in other avenues. For Stallman, that was citizenship projects. “Engaging in community service that expanded beyond my immediate family and friends was not something I would have pursued on my own, and 4-H showed me the importance of it,” Stallman says. “We almost always did projects that were fun and/or that we cared about, and it made it so gratifying to give back to the community.”
Stallman received her degree in Vocal Music from Truman State University, and shortly after was hired on as a lead singer for Holland America Cruises. She was a lead singer and dancer on a couple other cruise lines before moving to LA. One current goal is the niche avenue of session singing (singers who perform background vocals on TV shows, movies, and video games). Stallman says, “I’ve met a lot of amazing people in the industry and am looking forward to working in this musical niche.”
Stallman also works as a freelance voice-over artist with a variety of companies which is one more way to use her voice to connect with others.
“4-H made a huge impact on my life. Although I was always a pretty independent and driven kid, 4-H let me put my ideas and passions into action. It also taught me discipline with record keeping and project books. I learned that if you want to be competitive, like with my horse and food projects, you need to practice, be prepared, and enjoy the reason you’re doing it. This has been monumental in my work as a musician,” Stallman says.
“In my field, there are a lot of people who take shortcuts and think they can skate by without putting in the work. I have gained and kept most of my work because I always show up prepared and committed to what I’m doing. That is something that 4-H engrained in me. And since I do tend to be independent, 4-H taught me the importance of working together to get things done. You can’t always do it yourself, so if you get good people around you and make a plan, it will get done!”
Like 4-H offers the chance to pursue a wide variety of projects, Stallman has had the opportunity to be involved in something way out of left field - professional wrestling. Stallman describes herself as a fitness junkie of sorts who was looking for a way to challenge her body and actually use her strength for something. As someone who was always interested in stunts, she found herself at an open call for WOW: Women of Wrestling.
Stallman now wrestles for them as Cowgirl Casey Dakota, a persona that was built on her Midwest roots and love for horses when she was growing up. Stallman says, “The even BETTER part is that I have a good excuse to go riding again (for character development) like I used to do back when I was in 4-H. I’m finally getting to learn a lot of the skills I didn’t have back then, all while revisiting my roots, which puts me in a very happy place.”
Stallman credits 4-H for teaching her a variety of values that have helped her keep pursuing her passions: Preparedness, practice, planning, kindness, flexibility and hard work. The importance of community and what it means to work well with others. Working with what you have and learning to adapt. Trying new things. She says 4-H is unique in the variety of interest areas available to members.
Stallman wants to encourage current 4-H’ers to use their time in 4-H to explore new things or dig deeper into areas they already feel fulfilled doing. “Be confident in what you do and go for it,” Stallman says. “4-H offers you a way to express and find out more about yourself, take advantage of it. You’d be surprised what you might learn about yourself along the way.”